Prioritizing Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental health was once a sensitive topic that people avoided discussing. Now, it is being perceived more as an elephant in the room that cannot be avoided, especially in the workplace. Thanks to research and awareness, organizations are realizing that mental health and employee productivity are interconnected, and topics should be discussed as such. With this realization, there is more discussion happening amongst supervisors and business owners alike on how workplace environments can improve, so that employee’s mental health can thrive.

The financial implications of mental health and substance abuse amongst employees and in the workplace costs employers between $79 and $105 billion annually, according to the Center for Prevention and Health. The bottom line is that prioritizing mental health in the workplace has more benefits than it does disadvantages, including financially. If you need tips regarding how to go about it, continue reading below.

Look for Ways to Address Anxiety

Doing what you can to help ease anxiety at work is a way to prioritize mental health. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has found that American employees are most likely to report anxiety symptoms and use prescription medication. It also found that 28% have had an anxiety or panic attack at some point. Although you can’t manage their anxiety for them, you can create a more relaxing environment and reduce potential triggers to ensure a safe and calm workspace to be productive in.

Examples of stressors that could be triggering employees are deadlines, conflicts with employees, high expectations, and a lack of work-life balance. Not only can they increase anxiety symptoms, but it could result in reduced productivity.

To counter the effects of anxiety in the workplace, consider creating more flexibility when it comes to deadlines and encouraging better work-life balance for your employees. This could include outsourcing work in departments that are overburdened, as well as allowing flexible working arrangements, like the option to work remotely or to be flexible in individual work schedules. Another idea would be to regularly assess the needs of employees in both public and private meetings, and, most importantly, to take complaints seriously when they arise.

Implement Changes to Your Policy

You may need to introduce new business practices if you want to see long-lasting changes, especially when it comes to improving mental health environments in the workplace. In fact, only 40% of employees prioritize wellbeing in their benefits strategy, which is a missed opportunity for employers to ensure their employees are having their mental health taken care of. With this realization, consider updating company policies so they better encourage a healthier workplace for all employees, both physically, mentally, and emotionally.

To begin the journey of changing the atmosphere surrounding mental health, consider holding department meetings where you both outline the steps that will be taken to make changes, while also encouraging people to speak up and offer their own suggestions for improvement. These changes could be numerous, but should be implemented over time instead of all at once. An example of a simple introduction could be a policy that all employees must leave the office by 6 PM. Enforcement could include supporting employees who feel like they are falling behind so that they don’t have to stay long after normal hours, offering flexible working conditions, and closing up the office at the same time every evening and leaving in a group.

Making it mandatory that all managers have mental health training is another example of a policy that could work. The more knowledgeable they are on mental health challenges, the more support they can offer employees who work under them. It could also help eliminate the stigma around mental health and make employees feel more comfortable discussing their concerns with managers or HR. The idea should be to see how you can make changes at a policy level so that mental health is ingrained into your business values and practices, so that employees never question where the company or department stands. Doing this will not only help present employees, but could also help attract future employees, all while building a more supportive workplace.

Consider Emotional Support Dogs

Emotional support is a tangible way of helping employees and making them feel like more than a dollar sign. Updating policies to allow for emotional support animals in addition to service animals in the office is an option to explore. A single designated office dog could be another means to help with stress management, as dogs are proven to help reduce stress.

Simply petting a dog is said to increase oxytocin levels and reduce cortisol. A 2012 study that looked at how an office dog affects stress levels also found that those who brought their dogs to work found their stress levels declining throughout the course of the day. Other benefits of having a dog are increased productivity due to having to take your dog out for walks and creating more meaningful interactions with co-workers.

Having said that, for the sake of balance, acknowledging the cons of bringing a dog to work is important, too. Two core challenges you may face are dog behavior and the inconvenience it causes for those with dog allergies. You could bypass this issue by eliminating in-person contact. A way to do this would be by having employees who are allergic to dogs work in different parts of the building, giving them an enclosed work space, or allowing flexible working hours.

Provide Information and Resources

As mentioned earlier, you cannot resolve all of your employee’s mental health issues yourself, but you can provide support. Giving them information and resources that educate them on how to manage their mental health on their own could make them feel supported and build their resilience in the process.

For instance, to help them reduce anxiety and stress in and outside of the workplace, you could do a monthly training or workshop on stress management. You could also give them worksheets that they can refer back to when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Another idea would be to give them access to discounted or free gym memberships, encouraging them to exercise, which can be a great stress reliever too.

Aside from giving employees the resources they need to empower themselves, consider providing an EAP benefit. This gives employees access to a handful of free therapy sessions which could do wonders for their mental health. Having a professional to confide in could improve their wellbeing in the long run as therapy can help manage conditions like anxiety and depression as well as help improve relationships. Not having to worry about the cost may also be more of an incentive for them to take up the offer.

If you want reduced absent rates and a greater level of productivity, prioritizing mental health is one of many solutions. The above suggestions could also help you improve the mental health and wellbeing of your employees, which in turn, could result in a more vibrant business.

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The True Cost of Hiring the Wrong Employee

Image: Unsplash

Making one bad hire might not seem like a huge blip on the radar. However, the negativity associated with the wrong fit could send ripples throughout your organization. This can impact your business’s bottom line in a variety of ways.

Below are several ways hiring the wrong person can impact your business.

Budget

Taking the time to find the right candidate requires resources in time spent and the costs associated with paying for ads on job searching platforms. Then, when you bring the new hire in, there’s onboarding. After all of this, if the employee isn’t the right fit, you’ll have to repeat the process again, requiring more time and money spent.

How much could this cost your business? On average, one bad hire could set a company back $14,900 — and this is for just one employee. This number also doesn’t take into consideration the costs to replace them or to retain other employees. The Undercover Recruiter states bad hires cost organizations on average $240,000.

This is a sizeable expense that not only impacts your company’s bottom line, it can affect other areas of your business as well.

Employee Morale and Culture

Finding the right fit both from a skillset and culture fit perspective benefits both the new employee and your current employees.

However, what happens if the culture isn’t the right fit? A change in culture could lead to more stress on the job for everyone involved, especially if there are clashes in communication styles or a drop in production. In turn, this could result in your employees looking for other employment opportunities.

Rounding back to the budget, retention is a key driver of hiring costs. It isn’t cost-effective to hire the best fit alone, you also want to retain your employees, as this reduces training and onboarding costs and improves employee morale since everyone fits in together; this is why company culture plays a huge role in finding the right fit.

One bad hire could disrupt community continuity. While it’s good to hire candidates who provide fresh, valuable perspectives to your business, it’s also important to examine how they fit into the department they’ll be in. Will their communication styles mesh well with others in their department? Do they share the same occupational values?

These are important considerations because you want to make the transition as seamless as possible. When there are cultural disruptions, it can impact your company and the customers you serve.

Customer Experience

Your customer experiences are vital to your organization’s success. If you hire the wrong person in a client-facing position, then it’s your company that will suffer from a loss in sales.

The reason for this is that brands want to provide a unified approach to communicating with customers. This gives clients the perspective that everyone in the organization is on the same page — a key indicator of a well-run company. If you hire someone who doesn’t grasp or, even worse, doesn’t care about the company’s identity, this will show itself when speaking with customers. This could damage your company’s reputation irreversibly.

Driving Away Potential Hires

When prospective employees search for jobs, they have more tools at their disposal now than ever before. One way they examine whether a company is right for them is by reading employee reviews on sites like Indeed or Glassdoor. Some may also read customer reviews to gauge how well an employer treats their clients.

With these factors in mind, if you made the wrong choice(s) as it relates to hiring, employees will take notice of this. This could reflect in employee reviews of a company, as they question leadership’s decision-making abilities. As a prospective employee, reading these kinds of reviews will make you think twice about applying with them. After all, if there are inherent problems in leadership, how good can the company culture be?

Culture is everything to employees, and reputation is everything to employers. So, here’s how to hire the right candidates the first time.

Employing Best Practices

You want to take your time to find the best fit for your company. Doing this requires a concerted effort among everyone involved in the hiring process from senior and departmental leadership to even your IT team, who can use AI to help you craft accurate and engaging job descriptions.

Along with an accurate job description, you want to create benefit packages that attract and retain the best talent. This makes your employees feel valued and gives them more incentives to participate. Furthermore, when you do find good prospective candidates, it’s important to test their skills. This is where skill assessments are vital. Not only does this allow the candidate to showcase whether or not they can do some of the duties of the job, but it also tests the validity of their resume.

Lastly, you want to build a company culture that finds, welcomes, and nurtures the right fit for your organization’s needs. As part of this process, you’ll want to establish an onboarding program that clearly defines your company’s culture and how your employee(s) fit into it. This will help them transition into the role while also knowing what’s expected of them.

Ultimately, hiring the wrong employee can have a multi-pronged effect that could affect all areas of your business. By using these tips, you increase your chances of hiring the right employee the first time.

5 Ways to Leverage Your Tech Skills to Kick-Start a Wealthy Career

To work in tech means to exploit and capitalize on one of the biggest and most lucrative industries in the world. Technology is an inextricable part of our everyday life, it shapes whole industries, and needless to say, every company needs tech-savvy employees to drive all of their processes from app development to website maintenance, from HR to sales, and all across the board. Needless to say, if you have some tech skills, you should have no problem monetizing them in this tech-driven day and age. 

That said, it’s also important to note that long-term success is not guaranteed, especially when you consider the fact that technology is constantly evolving, and so the need for growth-oriented employees and professionals continues to rise as a result. Provided that you’re willing to learn and evolve your skills with the prevailing trends, let’s take a look at the five best ways you can leverage your expertise to kick-start a wealthy career.

Image editing and video production

Digital content is what drives the modern business world forward, which means that every company needs to keep dishing out amazing content on a regular basis in order to execute their marketing strategies, appeal to and engage the modern online audience, and of course, get on Google’s good side. Now, while it is true that written content (blogs and the like) is king in the digital world, this doesn’t mean that you need to be a writer to make some amazing content. This is because visual content is equally important, and not just for marketing purposes.

If you consider yourself to be somewhat of a Photoshop whizz or if you’re versed in the art and science of video editing, you could be taking on various interesting projects for businesses of all sizes, national and well as international given the flexible nature of the job. From marketing materials, to internal documents, images, and explainer videos, there is no shortage of opportunities in this field.

Creating brands and their visual identities

Speaking of visual content, one of the most important elements of long-term success in the modern business world is, of course, branding. Experienced business leaders (as well as novices who do their research) understand the importance of proper brand-building in this competitive day and age, because having a strong brand identity is just about the only thing that can really make a business stand out from the rest. Without a brand, a business is just another player in a sea of competitors.

This is where you come in as the branding professional everyone needs, and are willing to pay a hefty sum for your talents. Now, branding is a bit different than image or video editing, as it not only involves strategic thinking and brainstorming, but also creative content creation – from scratch. When you’re working with a business leader on creating a brand, you will be tasked to create a brand’s identity from scratch in order to build a unique image that will resonate with the hearts and minds of the target demographic. Needless to say, this is a lucrative calling that requires tech skills as well as creative thinking.

Proprietary software development

Speaking of lucrative callings, one of the most lucrative industries in the world is, naturally, the financial sector. Concretely, tech-savvy professionals with adequate coding experience can find numerous lucrative opportunities in the Forex market, and build proprietary software for leading brands such as Ever Forex as well as making sure that all platforms are functioning properly on a 24/7 basis to ensure stellar customer experience. 

The key driver of this demand is sheer necessity, as broker firms in the financial sector cannot afford a single minute of downtime, which means that they will gladly pay for a professional who can keep the platform up and running without a hitch. While it might take you some time to familiarize yourself with the specifics of the industry and the unique idiosyncrasies of a given platform, the time you spend educating yourself will be well worth the investment in the long run.

Website development and upkeep

Another lucrative field that could never lose its popularity is web development and upkeep. Again, website-building and maintenance is something that every business needs nowadays, but it’s also a career path that will continue to yield significant financial returns for years to come. That said, keep in mind that web development is a pretty competitive field, so it’s important to really nail your skillset and diversify your portfolio if you want to land some lucrative contracts.

Digital marketing

On a final note, always remember that digital marketing offers a wealth of opportunities for those of you with a knack for online marketing, and a skillset necessary to create captivating ads and online content. Given the fact that digital marketing encompasses numerous effective tactics, you can pick and choose your niche or even become an all-around digital marketer to boost your chances of landing a high-paying job in a company that needs everything from SEO to SEM, from social media management and email marketing, to landing page and app development. 

Wrapping up

There is no shortage of lucrative opportunities in this tech-driven day and age, so don’t think that only programmers get to make an honest living in the tech sector. Rather, you can explore these fields further to find your true calling and kick-start a wealthy career.

Tech-Savvy Hiring for a Remote World

There’s no denying the business world is going remote.

Over time, advancements in technology have grown to such an extent that the need to drive back and forth from an office is quickly becoming a thing of the past. In fact, some reports state that 70% of people around the world work from home at least one day per week.

Luckily, this revolution has provided human resource teams with a slew of new tools that make acquiring the best remote talent easier than ever. Video software, translation services, and applicant tracking systems are all helping companies around the world find the top talent, and the businesses that utilize them the best may come out ahead.

Preparing Your Business for Remote Work

Introducing remote employees into your company is not a process that can be taken lightly. Before you even begin to think about your staffing needs, you first need to ensure that your current systems are properly designed for remote work. It can be quite an undertaking, which can be made easier with professional user testing.

The process usually involves hiring a firm to find individuals with testing experience who will sign onto your systems and perform tasks and tests that you request. One of the most significant advantages of remote user testing is that you can use either local testers or individuals from around the globe. This independent testing will mimic the work environment of your future remote employees and give you validation that your systems are working correctly. Remote testing is also less time consuming, as you are not wasting resources by bringing individuals into your office.

In most cases, HR won’t be able to see the remote tester actually working through the tasks live and will instead get a recording at the end along with any follow up questions. Once findings are recorded and tweaks are made, a second round of testers should come in to ensure that all systems are ready to go. Testing should also be completed down the road as system updates are implemented.

Applicant Tracking Systems

Once your remote operations are up and running, it is time to find your employees. The first step of that process includes sending out a job listing and then receiving applications. When you open the flood gates and hundreds of resumes come flowing in, organization is key. This is where applicant tracking systems can save the day.

When applicants send in their resumes, the tracking system files and sorts the applications in order to present them to HR and the hiring manager in an orderly fashion. The manager can then use the system throughout the rest of the hiring process to set up phone interviews, collect background information, and send out final hiring paperwork.

As technology advances, so do the tracking systems, and current models can compile the resumes as well as “read” and rate them based on how well they match the job description. The significant benefit of using these systems is that they cut down on administrative tasks, and the quicker you can get your remote candidate through the process, the less likely they are to look elsewhere and opt for a different job. If you are looking to expand your remote operations over time, then you want to cultivate this positive candidate experience to create good word of mouth and avoid future turnover.

Advancements in Video Interviews

With the proper candidates selected, the selection process then moves onto the interview phase, and if you are looking outside of the local area, then in-person interviews may not be feasible. Luckily, advancements in video technology are making the process easier and as seamless as if the individual were sitting in the same room. One current trend is providing potential first-round candidates with a “one-way” interview where questions are supplied, and the applicant can answer them via video on their own time. This way, the candidates can feel less nervous and more natural, so that HR can get a better idea of their personality before the face-to-face video interview.

As time goes on, more advanced video interviewing software is coming into the limelight. Video packages, such as that developed by MyInterview, allow you to not only talk to the candidate live, but the software also uses machine learning to analyze the applicant’s answers for professionalism and reasoning skills. Another advanced program is VidCruiter, which offers a suite of tools, including a system that ranks candidates based on qualifications and intuitive filters that specify the candidates that you should interview first.

When reaching out to candidates on an international level, it is important to find the best candidates while keeping expenses in check. There are also potential language barriers to overcome. Calling the applicant with the help of an over-the-phone interpreter could help you to fill in the blanks. The last thing you want to do is miss out on a great employee simply because you can’t communicate properly.

The remote landscape is growing at a steady pace, and if employers want to stay ahead of the pack, they must utilize these remote hiring tools.

Image Source: Pexels

Client Communication: How to Do It Right

Communication, they say, is the basis for any healthy relationship. Much like in romantic bonds, family relations, and our friendships, transparency and honesty are necessary for all parties involved to feel appreciated and to know each other’s expectations. It’s not much different with professional bonds, isn’t it? The clients that give you the most trouble are the ones that send you lengthy emails with zero useful feedback, the ones that bombard you with information you cannot use, and the ones that don’t know what they want. 

Whether you’re working as a solo freelancer or you’re a part of a larger agency, if your role involves any amount of client interaction, you know that misunderstandings can cause more headaches than any amount of actual work ever could. Implementing certain rules, sticking to specific habits in client communication, and setting boundaries are all very important ways in which you can ease those headaches and make sure that your collaborations are more effective.

Define the process

Some companies and freelancers still assume that every single one of their clients has the same idea of the services they provide. For example, the field of digital marketing is a vast one indeed, and if you haven’t specified which particular areas your expertise covers, you can expect your clients to either come to you with a slew of questions, or to assume that you do exactly what they need and want. In both situations, you’re already in a mess. 

First of all, make sure that every touchpoint of your communication entails clear information. Your website, for starters, should have a clear page explaining your services in full. When someone reaches out to you, before the collaboration even begins, you should make sure that they know exactly what you can do for them, and what your business doesn’t cover. That way, you’ll prevent many misunderstandings and you’ll be able to qualify client leads more efficiently than ever. 

Establish boundaries

We’ve all been there: a client sends you emails in the middle of the night, with no regard for your personal time off, expecting you to reply as soon as yesterday, and constantly in need of changes and alterations to your original service. Some clients are needy, others are borderline certifiable, but sometimes you cannot assess if they are a good match for your business until very late in the collaboration. 

In any scenario, setting those boundaries early on can help you manage those complicated relationships better. For starters, you can emphasize your work hours and when you’re available for communication via chat, phone, or email, and how long it typically takes you to respond. You should also let your clients know that when they need changes to your provided service or product, you have a process to stick to, and explain how long it takes. All of these details could be beneficial for letting your clients know how to get the information they want without disrupting your workflow. 

Embrace discovery

Especially when you’re in a creative industry, delivering something that will be in line with your clients’ expectations and needs can be tricky. Creative work is very individual, although based on expertise, and if you’re running a web design agency, for instance, you can often go through several stages of back-and-forth communication before you actually complete the work at hand, by no one’s fault in particular. Those interactions can still take away a chunk of your valuable time, and preventing that can be beneficial for you and your clients.

You can create and send out a customized web design client questionnaire as a part of your discovery process in an attempt to cover all of your bases and prevent all those changes early on. Of course, it’s always possible for your client to send the design back for tweaks, but you can at the very least prevent major, time-consuming changes that can affect your productivity. This is especially handy if your customers aren’t familiar with the industry and wouldn’t know what kind of details you need to begin with, so some guidance is essential.

Ask for feedback to improve 

Some clients like in-person meetings, some love Skype, while others enjoy the email correspondence that comes with clarity and transparency. In any scenario, you might not be perfectly compatible in terms of those preferences with each and every client, but you can find ways to accommodate their needs without disrupting your own process. A great way to avoid conflicts would be to ask your clients for feedback regarding your performance but also your communication and availability. 

Insights collected in that way could be helpful in defining your future relationships and in redefining expectations in your existing collaborations. In a similar manner, you should feel free to provide your own comments and feedback if you feel that your client should give you more space or that they aren’t available enough to the detriment of the project, causing missed deadlines and the like. Transparency in the form of regular feedback is a healthy way to let your client relationships blossom over time.

 

Although it takes time to evolve as a freelancer or even as a part of a team within an agency, you can certainly find ways to improve how you interact with clients. Take these tips into consideration, and you’ll be able to ensure long-lasting bonds and more satisfied clients down the line.

How To Prepare For An International Business Conference

Entrepreneurs are still keen on networking events, even though we live in the digital age. There’s always good potential in attending an international business conference. You can meet new business associates, find a mentor and expand your network of contacts. 

However, there’s also the chance that attending such an event will be a total bust but it’s a risk you must be willing to make. That’s why preparing for attending such a conference is very important because you never know what might happen. With that in mind, here are a few ways how you can prepare for an international business conference. 

Do some research first

It’s always a good idea to research the location where the conference is taking place. Usually, international business conferences last for a couple of days but you won’t be spending the entire day at the conference, that’s for sure. Therefore, treat it like any other trip and research some sights worth visiting or some entertainment that will make your visit more enjoyable. 

Also, as soon as you find out what is the location and the duration of the event, get to know more about travel insurance options for that country. This helps you make the right financial plan beforehand and get yourself insured in advance.

Plan your trip thoroughly

In most cases, the conference hosts plan every detail, including accommodations for their attendees. However, oftentimes, you’re only invited to attend, nothing more. If that’s the case, you’ll have to do the preparations yourself. Here’s a list of tasks you should focus on.

  • Book a hotel or a motel room.
  • Book a flight to your destination.
  • Arrange for someone to pick you up at the airport.
  • Arrange transportation to the conference.
  • Confirm your attendance.
  • Pack everything you need.
  • Make sure your passport hasn’t expired.
  • Plan your trip back as well.

It might not be a long or a demanding trip but you have to make sure you’re adequately prepared nonetheless. 

Protect yourself

Every international trip is not without some risks. That’s why it’s very important to protect yourself properly. As an example, keep your passport with you at all times and your valuables under lock and key. 

Moreover, check in with the travel advisories to determine what kind of documentation, if any, you should bring along. Last but not least, bring more money with you in case some unforeseen circumstance rises up, such as your luggage being lost or something similar. 

Plan to make connections

As an entrepreneur, your mission is to get the most out of the business conference you’re attending. More often than not, that means making as many connections as you can. Therefore, bring along your business cards you can hand out to potential associates. Exchanging information with key people is essential at networking events. 

Also, prepare your speech or presentation well if you’re one of the public speakers at the conference. After all, you want to put your best face on and make a good impression on the crowd. In addition, not every lead is worth pursuing. Try to determine what will benefit you or your business and focus on making connections there. If you try to explore everything, you might miss out on a good opportunity. 

Get some rest when you arrive

Arriving at a foreign country for a business conference usually means two things; travel fatigue and jet lag. If you can avoid any appointments as soon as you arrive, do so and get some rest, beforehand. Don’t  hesitate from investing in good accommodations. 

After all, a good night’s rest is required to retain your focus and have a better perspective on things. You will need some time to adjust to the new environment, as well as the new culture, which is next to impossible to do if you’re not well-rested. 

 

Attending an international business conference is always a good idea for aspiring entrepreneurs. You can learn new things and meet new people who can help you out in some way or another. That’s why it’s important to have a game plan and prepare yourself for what lies ahead. 

Sustainable Decor & Technology for the Workplace

HR Tech 11-7
Image Source: pixabay.com

Sustainability has become the “in” thing in nearly every aspect of our lives — our new sustainable homes, energy efficient cars, and even our workplaces. Sure, the word can get a little cliche at times; it seems like you can’t really get away from the notion of being more sustainable. But even at its most inundating, the concept can actually provide a number of tangible benefits to our lives without a huge amount of effort.

In fact, there are about a hundred ways that being sustainable can actually make the office a bit of a better place to be. Some research indicates that a more sustainable, green office space helps employees feel less anxious or stressed and more productive. These good feelings can lead to better reviews, greater accomplishments, and less turnover.

If your office is working towards becoming more sustainable, congrats! Working towards that goal doesn’t always have to equate to spending a lot of money to completely reorganize everything. Rather, sustainability can come in any number of small ways that add up to some major benefits.

Decoration

Decorating around the office can certainly vary in scale. For example, adding plants around the office or opening up the blinds to allow for natural lighting can help people relax and feel more content in their workspace. Likewise, upcycling around the office can help reduce office waste and give your space a bit more of a personalized touch which can encourage employees to feel more invested in their workplace.

If you are upgrading your office space and wanting to make a more sustainable impact during the process, upcycling some goods can be a great way to do it. But eventually, you are going to need to buy some new things. Making your purchases count by getting products and furniture that is useful to employees and still sustainable or even LEED certified can help you meet your goals.

A higher LEED certification rating can come from much of the new office furniture purchases such as desks, chairs, computers, and lighting. Electrical products can be more energy efficient, while the furniture can be constructed of recycled materials. LEED certification points can make your office a more desirable place to work, a boon for retaining current employees and attracting quality new hires.

Maintenance

Replacing things within the office doesn’t have to be the only way to become a more sustainable space. Just keeping up on some of the regular office maintenance tasks can actually help your office waste less and reach its sustainability goals. Doing so can even safe the company quite a bit of money each year.

An example of this is taking the time to make sure all of the office plumbing is working at an optimal condition. Just like in a home, leaking pipes or damaged water heaters can quickly cost the company thousands of dollars and months of heartache in repairs. But fixing leaks and getting issues squared away quickly can make a difference. Even a dripping faucet can be a profound water waster, costing your company money and sustainability points in one fell swoop.

Your office can also keep up on other maintenance, upgrades, and repairs that will impact your ability to be sustainable and likely save money in the process. Examples are:

  • HVAC maintenance
  • Use laptops and turn things off at night
  • Install motion activated lighting
  • Install a smart thermostat
  • Consolidate printers
  • Upgrade to LEED appliances
  • Use water efficient landscape designs

People

Finally, the people component. Keeping up on important office maintenance and doing upgrades can go a long way in making your company more sustainable, but getting people on board is the final component. Once the other employees buy in, your workspace will be well on its way to a more sustainable outcome.

But how to do that?

One way to start is by allowing employees to contribute to sustainability goals. For instance, allow them to telework once a week, which will reduce their environmental impact from driving. It also reduces the use of lighting, power, and water in the office. Likewise, get employees to participate in company events that benefit sustainability goals, which can build a team mentality and improve working relations.

If your company hosts conferences or employees attend meetings regularly, perhaps it is time to rethink meeting sustainability. Are there ways to waste less, such as by requiring participants to bring their own coffee cups? Can meetings take place virtually rather than in person? All of these small things can really add up.

***

Sustainability in the office is a completely manageable thing in small steps. Sustainable decor and technology as well as keeping up on maintenance and repairs can make a big difference. Getting other people involved and on board with sustainability in the office is the final step to success! You can do it!

Healthy Communication in the Workplace

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Communication is one of the foundational elements of a properly functioning workplace, and as an HR rep, you’re likely going to be at the heart of your office’s communication channels. Whether you’re discussing work-life balance, resolving interpersonal conflict, or training employees regarding company policies, communication is going to be a key to success.

Why Good Communication Matters

A company is a living organism, and as is the case with all living organisms, communication between its various members is essential. Whether a business functions within a single office, maintains several locations across a country, or is completely remote in nature, healthy communication, among other things, helps to:

  • Communicate company objectives and values.
  • Promote teamwork and collaboration.
  • Maintain healthy professional relationships.
  • Encourage work-life balance.
  • Resolve interpersonal conflict.

The list goes on and on. One way or another, healthy communication is involved in nearly every facet of a successful company, which is why HR professionals, in particular, should make it a priority to facilitate and promote proper communication within the workplace.

Tips for Good Communication

From general training to specific person-to-person interactions, here are a handful of the best ways you can facilitate good communication within your company.

Offer Training

Training is a useful tool that allows a large amount of information to be communicated to an entire group of people efficiently and effectively. You can promote communication within your workplace in multiple ways by utilizing training sessions and seminars.

For instance, you can establish clear boundaries and protocols in order to avoid blurred lines when it comes to things like personal and professional relationships within the workplace. All staff members should be clearly informed regarding topics like sexual harassment and how to communicate sexual consent with a work colleague. They should also be made well aware of how to report issues of misconduct to a superior.

Along with protocol like this, you can also use teaching scenarios to help communicate to employees the importance of finding work-life balance and maintaining their mental health while on the job.

Promote Resources

It’s also important for HR representatives to establish themselves as a central source of resources for those in need. For instance, it should be made clear that if an employee is struggling in their personal life, they can come to HR in order to find resources for counseling.

Another example of providing resources would be informing a victim of sexual assault where they can find a sexual assault nurse examiner. Even someone simply trying to maintain a healthy weight should be able to come to HR in order to find important health information.

If employees are continually empowered with resources that help them maintain their health and well-being, it will go a long way in helping to promote interactions and communication with an office as a whole.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

A good HR rep is going to keep their door open at all times. If you want to promote good communication, you want employees to feel that they can come to you whenever they have a need without the fear of being turned away or asked to wait. This kind of communication starts with a good open door policy, which helps promote trust and encourages those with a need to approach you confidently with an issue or concern.

In addition, make sure that you take the time to learn how to look for common signs of distress, even if someone isn’t consciously communicating something specifically with you. If, for instance, an employee is failing to relate their particular issue with you, you may be able to identify what they’re dealing with by looking for other signs.

Say, for instance, that an employee is struggling with the recent loss of a loved one or the fact that they’ve checked out of their marriage. You may be able to pick up on the signs that they’re unconsciously projecting and help them communicate their struggle.

Be a Mediator

While it’s always nice to be a source of comfort, sometimes providing good communication requires some less desirable action. Any HR rep worth their salt is going to be ready to step into the role of mediator whenever the need arises.

The less-than-savory task of leading employees through interpersonal conflict takes focus and skill. A good mediator will be willing to dig to the root of an issue and then provide strategies that are aimed at resolving the conflict and preventing further problems from arising in the future. If you find yourself faced with the task of being a mediator, it’s critical that you step up to the challenge with grace and wisdom in order to maintain the relationships at stake and restore healthy communication between the aggrieved parties.

Practice Active Listening

Finally, it’s always wise to both practice and promote active listening. If you want healthy interconnectivity to percolate throughout your workplace, you’re going to want to start with your own communication efforts.

Start by taking the time to actively listen to your company’s employees. Avoid passing judgment, be patient, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to summarize and clarify in order to make sure everyone has been heard. If you can demonstrate active listening on a regular basis, you’ll provide a benchmark of healthy communication for others around you to follow.

Achieving Proper Communication

Training, seminars, resources, mediation, active listening, and open-door policies are all essential ingredients for maintaining healthy communication in the workplace. However, the most important thing of all is for you to take the time to properly prioritize communication in the first place. If an HR rep focuses on keeping proper lines of communication open within a workplace, potentially negative scenarios can be identified and addressed quickly and appropriately, leading to a smooth, functioning office over the long term.

Wave Goodbye to the Pitfalls of Presenteeism

The US Department of Labor says that the average American takes eight days off every year, meaning workers gift thousands of dollars of unused vacation time to their employers annually. But why?

Part of the issue is presenteeism – which plagues corporate America and, at the last calculation, costs the country $150 billion a year. This estimate attributed lost productivity due to poor health conditions of employees who still came to work – but did not take into account other effects – such as how presenteeism can also affect company culture, worker retention, and talent attraction.

The basic definition of presenteeism is when an employee spends more time at work than is required – including if they are unwell. A report from NPR, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found over half of Americans go to work when they are sick.

Deadlines are feared, having too many actions to return to, and expectations that employees must put work before their own health. For many workers, presenteeism is engrained in company culture. And it’s a problem many industries are grappling with as they increase flexible working policies that improve work life balances.

Companies must take the necessary actions to combat this issue, with three steps to consider below:

Step one: Addressing the root causes

Organizations should first take steps to address the root causes of poor physical and mental health within their workforce by offering comprehensive benefits packages. To have the greatest impact, these should include wellbeing support through a holistic benefits package such as wellness initiatives/allowances, access to mental health resources, massage or acupuncture sessions, and nutritionist sessions that support employees’ physical and mental health.

Additionally, technology is essential for HR and benefits teams to counter presenteeism. As well as offering sophisticated analysis that enables HR to track the popularity (and, therefore, success) of any company initiatives over a period of time, benefits tech and wellness pots can make a more immediate and tangible impact by allowing employees to self-administer benefits to impact their day-to-day health and happiness. This opens up an endless list of options, for example this could include access to yoga classes, therapy sessions, or financial wellness training. This digital approach to benefits management not only also means employees can access their benefits whenever and wherever they want, but provides data back to employers on what benefits are being used (and therefore valued.)

Step two: Analyze company culture

Presenteeism is often a cultural issue entrenched in an organization by the behavior of the leadership team or company values that haven’t yet evolved. While most within a company will recognize change as necessary, direction and leadership must first come from management.

If workers see management and leadership teams taking time off when they’re sick or are in need of a rest, they’ll be far more likely to do the same. It sends a clear message that when somebody is ill, they too should take the time to recover and when work is done, it’s time to go home.

HR can also facilitate open discussions about the importance of wellbeing to help shift company culture by using listening exercises that demonstrate to the workforce the company cares. Furthermore, organizations can take polls and surveys to help address any gaps in company benefits packages that could enhance their employees’ wellbeing – there is no shortage of ways employers can try to make improvements in this area.

Step three: Tech is key

Technology has effectively allowed more employees to work from home or other remote locations. Remote work brings many benefits such as reduced stress by saving money and time on commuting. But with this comes a need for balance.

Employers must be clear to workers that when they are sick, they should not be sending emails or seen online. When they are ready and well enough to return to work, they will be recovered, rejuvenated, and more productive.

We have a lot of work to do to address and eliminate presenteeism. Companies need to start by looking at their culture and management structures to better understand how to lead by example. People should be made to feel comfortable to take time off when they’re physically or mentally unwell without fearing piles of work or judgement from their manager – or their colleagues. This means actually taking time off when rest is needed so they can recuperate, and not working remotely which should be actively discouraged by managers during sick leave.

5 Tips How to Recruit Generation Z in Your Small Business

While Millennials are slowly taking over the workforce, Generation Z members aren’t far behind. Although their age span is not yet firmly set, they range from the nineties to the present age (e.g. 1995 and 2015) so they are easing into the business world. 

This is the generation who was born into smartphones, gadgets, and the Internet, and they feel at home with technology which is precisely the reason why you need them amongst your ranks, to stimulate your business’s progress. 

However, the traditional strict working atmosphere will not be appealing to Gen Z so you would need to make some changes to your recruitment process and the working conditions. With that in mind, here are 5 tips to help you find the optimal ways to recruit Gen Z employees.

Leverage on their love for technology

Generation Z loves its technology: as soon as they open their eyes, the first thing they reach for is their smartphones because they want to check what’s new with the world, if any of their friends wrote to them or if there are any work-related news. While older generations might become anxious because of a new software tool you introduced, a Generation Z employee will be the first one to enthusiastically try it out.

This means that, in order to attract them, you need to stay updated regarding the newest technology trends. In this way, you will make sure you facilitate certain aspects of work by eliminating menial work for the most part and that you become attractive to this tech-savvy generation. 

Visit relevant networking events

Posting an ad online is not the only manner to recruit Generation Z employees since this social group isn’t a slave to old trends. For instance, going to certain events and mingling with the attendees might help you find the talent you are looking for.

Just as Millennials, Gen Z has tremendous social awareness and often attend going-green events as well as those for charitable causes. If your business philosophy coincides with these causes, all you need to do is to choose one of the designs for business cards online, get them printed and hand them out to individuals who you consider great candidates. In this manner, you would know that the person coming to the interview is already a desirable candidate which shortens the recruitment process.

Show you care about health and wellness 

Gen Z is all about keeping fit and eating healthy and don’t be surprised if you learn that some of them refuse to own a car because they want to help the environment and be more active. Since a lot of them are known to cycle to work, it is good to have a bike rack in the building so they can leave their bicycles without the fear of having them stolen.

Also, having fresh fruit brought in daily will not significantly burden your budget but it will significantly improve your reputation among your employees, Gen Z ones in particular. If you have the budget and space, you should consider assembling a small gym so that they can work out after work or during their break if it helps them clear their heads. 

Offer growth opportunities

One of the strongest character traits that Gen Z members share is the anxiety caused by the feeling they are stuck in a place where everything stagnates. While previous generations might have enjoyed indulging in their routines and everything always functioning the same, this kind of working environment is the worst possible one for Gen Z as it would resemble a prison.

If there is no space for progress, for moving up the ladder, and shaking things up with new ideas, strategies, and tools, don’t be surprised if Gen Z members decide that they better look for another employment. To attract them and retain them, you need to offer challenges and be ready to embrace innovativeness and you will soon see how much good it would do to your business.

Keep them informed and involved

While some members of the older generations prefer to do one thing at the time, Gen Z cannot function without multitasking. Typing a report, responding to a teammate’s text about a project, while considering what to eat for lunch – this is just how their quick minds work. So, long recruitment procedures where they go through many steps which are weeks apart with somber periods of silence from their prospective employers are not going to cut it for them.

They like to be kept in the loop since you never know if they have other options and you might end up losing a talented employee because you didn’t contact them for a few weeks between recruitment steps. Also, since they are big lovers of video as a format, you can also include them making a short presentation video about them and their work experience as a part of the process.

Wrapping up

Generation Z will take over the business world in a not so distant future, so it is wise to get a head start because it can also mean gaining a competitive advantage. Instead of being the one who joins the race once it already started, think proactively and start adapting your working conditions and atmosphere to the upcoming generations who will rule the business world.